Let’s get to know one of the most common food trends in recent years. Plant-based meals are focused around plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and plant-based oils. Animal products can be eliminated or limited to smaller, fewer servings. The research on health and plant-based eating has indicated a lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and many cancers.
Due to the substitution of alternative foods this diet tends to be higher in fiber and lower in saturated fat content. Additionally, plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage.
Plant-based diet variations include:
- Vegan – no animal products
- Vegetarian – no meat but still eats eggs and/or dairy foods
- Pescatarian – a vegetarian who also eats fish
- Flexitarian or Semi-Vegetarian – eats meat occasionally, such as 3x each week
It is easy to substitute plant-based proteins into your meals as many of these foods are likely familiar to you already. Legumes are a great source of fiber and protein, which include beans like black beans or kidney beans, as well as lentils. Whole grains such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, and oats provide fiber and protein as well. Nuts and seeds which include almonds and peanut butter provide protein and are sources of healthy fats.
Following a more plant-based diet can be easy! Experiment with legumes, meat replacements, and dairy or egg alternatives in familiar meals. Toss in a variety of vegetables and fruits as well and you’ll have yourself a yummy and nutrient-rich meal.
– Brooke Krog, Meth-Wick Staff Dietitian